BMX Maine

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DURHAM – Matt Mitchell’s bike racing days were put on hold when his family moved to Maine from Connecticut last August. But if his mom’s wish comes true, the first sanctioned bicycle motocross (BMX) race track in Maine will be minutes away from Lewiston-Auburn.

Kim Mitchell is hoping to build and operate a BMX track in the Durham area. Her vision would be a first for Maine and would be sanctioned by the National Bicycle League.

BMX is a bicycle sprint race where competitors navigate a single-lap dirt course made up of various jumps, turns and straightaways. The sport originated in California in the 1970s and for the first time will become an Olympic sport at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

Mitchell is holding an informational meeting to discuss bringing the race track to the area at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25, at the Durham Elementary School. “The meeting is step one,” said Mitchell, who has contacted the NBL about the process of opening a track.

Mitchell has also been in contact with a few local bike shops about her idea. “John Grenier was very helpful,” said Mitchell of the owner of Rainbow Bicycle & Fitness in Auburn, who sells BMX bikes and parts.

“I would love to see it happen,” said Jared Buckingham, an employee at Rainbow. Buckingham said the closest track is in Rye, N.H. A lot of people associate BMX racing with freestyle BMX, said Buckingham. But “they really are two separate entities.”

Mitchell does not have a specific location in mind to build the track. “A lot of tracks are on park property,” said Mitchell, referring to race tracks in other states. Foothills BMX, the track that is 20 minutes from the Mitchell’s former home in Connecticut, is leased from the city of Torrington for $1, she said.

Connecticut has four BMX tracks, said Mitchell. Matt and Kim had been racing every weekend and occasionally during the week. Matt finished the 2006 season as the fifth-ranked 10-year-old novice in Connecticut. Kim finished the year “well, not so good.”

“I don’t know if you would call it racing,” said Mitchell, 39. She started racing two years ago and competes in the 16-and-over girls’ class. The average age of Kim’s competition is 17. She finished third once. “But I mostly finish last,” she said. One track announcer nicknamed a particular track obstacle as “Kim Mitchell Tumbledown” because she would crash there in almost every race. “I figured I had to be at the races anyway (to bring her son Matt) so I decided to give it a try and I have had a lot of fun with it. I wish I knew about this when I was a teenager,” she said.

Kim emphasizes that the whole family can become involved. Five- to 6-year-olds is the youngest class to compete and the oldest class is for 55 and over. “There are guys who compete their whole life,” Buckingham said.

Mitchell’s son began racing when he was 6. Matt finished his first race in last place but, by the time he was 9, he had won the state championship and finished the season ranked fifth in the rookie class.

When the Mitchells decided to move to Maine, Matt, a fifth-grader at Durham Elementary, wanted to stay in Connecticut so he could continue to compete. His mom assured him that she would do her best to build a track in Maine. “We have to figure out what we have to do, step by step, pedal by pedal,” she told her son.

The Mitchells traveled back to Connecticut in September for the state championship. Matt was in second place when he was forced off the side of the track, finishing in seventh place for the day, but fifth for the season.

“We are certainly going to miss that track. But hopefully we will start another and create new memories,” said Kim Mitchell.

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